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December 05, 2002: The little details that mean so much

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I am used to hard water, since we've got it at home, and I've been drinking/bathing/washing in it for the better part of 13 years. So the taste of minerals in my water doesn't bother me too much. But down here, where I'm training, they have a different sort of hard water. Our hard water back home may have a distinctive taste, but at least it rinses clean. This stuff in my hotel doesn't. It leaves this slippery film of something all over everything. For the entire week I have not felt as if I could ever get completely clean.

Never thought I'd be looking forward to getting home to my own water, but then, I've never been to this part of California before either.

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I've been training in two different sites in this city I'm in this week. Training in the first site occurred in a narrow room full of tables and chairs. The bathroom there smelled quite strongly of cherries. In this site, the room is a lot smaller, stuffed with narrow tables that are crammed with laptops. And here, the bathroom smells of mustard. I was not aware that they made an air freshener that smelled like mustard, but there it is. Mustard. Extremely strong mustard. It's not exactly what one expects when one goes to the bathroom. I think I preferred the cherries.

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I had been a little unsure how this week would go, since unlike the previous five counties, this time I was doing the training by myself (not with a partner). But things have gone just fine. Granted by the end of Tuesday my thighs were incredibly sore because I'd spent two days alternately standing in front of a class or squatting in front of a computer (it was deep knee bends all day. Ow). But that's really been the only drawback to solo training.

It helps that the mollusk handlers in Santa Barbara have all been incredibly nice. And it also helps that I had two days to do my favorite part of the training, the part where I can really have fun and get them excited and involved. When they get a chance to get their hands on the software and see just how easy it really is, they love it. My evaluations yesterday were full of glowing comments. I swear they almost made me blush. I think I need to copy all those comments down somewhere, and next time I'm feeling low and blue, I can read through them to remind myself how awesome things can be.

Evaluations are funny things though, and we've seen an interesting trend. When the mollusk handlers come into the class ready to learn and ready to accept the changes this new software brings to them and their mollusks, the evaluations tend to reflect what they think about how the class went, or how well we did as instructors. When they come in with chips on their shoulders (as one county's mollusk handlers did in October, the evaluations are not so much a reflection of the class itself as a reflection of their feelings about the new program as a whole.

But even if we tell ourselves that over and over, it can still sometimes be hard to see those ratings because well, we're all only human. And how can we not take them personally, even when we know it's got nothing to do with us?

So weeks like this one, where the feedback I receive is positive, are awfully nice to have, just to make up for the other times when I'm faced with a room full of surly mollusk handlers who wouldn't like me no matter what I do, just because of why I'm there.

Once again I am taking part in Holidailies, and have thus made the commitment to try to post every day this month. You can find guaranteed reading material from all of us participating at the Holidailies portal.

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